MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police are now commenting on a viral video making the rounds on social media appearing to show a bystander getting in trouble for recording a crime scene.
The video was posted on Monday by someone with the Facebook screen name of Francesco DaDon Guglielmette.
As the camera begins rolling near a squad car, an officer asks the person recording to get on the sidewalk as he’s standing in the middle of the street.
The officer then says sidewalks are made for walking, and the man should keep moving.
Several seconds later it appears the man recording is involved in some sort of tussle during which he drops the camera.
When it is picked back up, officers are standing around a man on the ground placing him under arrest.
The author claimed he was the person lying on the ground.
“Someone broke in to my lil brother home…I get a phone call to go check on his mom. We the ones who called the police… They were just mad because I was recording them abusing their authority.”
The Memphis Police Department posted the following comment on Facebook:
“I have received several calls, posts, and messages concerning a recent video of a MPD Officer who arrested an individual who was filming the scene of a home invasion robbery. I wanted you all to know that we have the video and we have identified the officers involved. This video has been turned over to our Inspectional Services Bureau and a thorough investigation is underway.
Please understand that this investigations like all investigations, will be handled appropriately and the findings will be revealed at the conclusion of the investigation. We only received this video yesterday, so please be patient while we conduct our investigation.
“I understand the outrage from the community concerning this video; however, I do ask that you all allow us to conduct a thorough investigation into the actions of this officer,” said Interim Director Michael Rallings.
“This investigation will be handled expeditiously and the findings will be released to you all at the conclusion of the investigation. The Memphis Police Department takes all citizen complaints seriously and I can assure you that this investigation will be handled appropriately.”
“We are attempting to locate this incident, but can’t find it at this point,” a spokesperson with the department said. “We would need to know the surrounding details before we can respond.”
This is not the first time WREG has reported on incidents involving citizens using their phones to record officers on duty.
In Fall 2013, Memphis Police updated it public recordings policy after several of such encounters.
The policy states that MPD “recognizes that members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record MPD members while members are conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity.”
A person can record police activity “as long as the bystander has a legal right to be present where he or she is located.”
Included in the policy is the reminder that having a recording device doesn’t “entitle the bystander to cross a police line, to enter an area that is closed to the public, or to enter any area designated as a crime scene.”
The policy outlines what MPD officers “shall not” do if a person, who is legally allowed to be there, is recording.
For instance, officers can’t demand an ID, detain the person, demand the person stop recording, or demand an explanation of why the person is recording.